- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2008

FLORIDA

Jumping stingray kills boater

MARATHON — A 75-pound stingray killed a Michigan woman yesterday when it flew out of the water and struck her in the face as she rode in a boat in the Florida Keys, officials said.

Judy Kay Zagorski, of Pigeon, Mich., was sitting in a boat going 25 mph when the spotted eagle ray, with a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet, leapt out of the water, said Jorge Pino, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The impact likely killed the 57-year-old woman, but it was not clear whether she had any puncture wounds from the ray’s barb, Mr. Pino said.

An autopsy will determine an official cause of death, Mr. Pino said.

NEW YORK

Inspector arrested in crane collapse

NEW YORK — A city inspector has been charged with lying about checking on a construction crane that later collapsed, killing seven persons in a dense Manhattan neighborhood.

Edward Marquette, 46, was arraigned and released without bail yesterday on charges of falsifying business records and offering a false instrument for filing. If convicted, Mr. Marquette faces up to four years in prison.

The 20-story crane broke away Saturday from an apartment tower under construction and toppled onto a four-story brownstone, killing six construction workers and a visitor in town for St. Patrick’s Day.

Buildings Commissioner Patricia Lancaster said she has suspended Mr. Marquette and ordered a full audit of his inspection reports over the past six months, and also of the cranes and derricks unit.

CALIFORNIA

Woman killed while calling 911

WEST COVINA — A woman was asking a 911 dispatcher for help when her pleas were interrupted by gunshots, then silence. She was fatally shot.

The woman told the dispatcher someone was trying to break into her home in upscale West Covina, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Dan Rosenberg said. “Deputies heard gunshots followed by silence and an open phone line,” he said.

Deputies arrived at the house a few minutes after Wednesday’s late morning call.

HAWAII

Volcano sprays rocks on lookout

VOLCANO — An explosion atop the Kilauea volcano rained gravel-size rocks onto a tourist lookout, road and trail before dawn Wednesday, injuring no one but forcing parts of a national park to close.

It was the first explosion in Kilauea’s main Halemaumau crater since 1924, scattering debris over about 75 acres, said Jim Kauahikaua, scientist-in-charge at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on the Big Island.

No lava erupted as part of the 3 a.m. explosion. That suggests it was caused by hydrothermal or gas buildup, Mr. Kauahikaua said.

INDIANA

Chemical explosion at plant injures 3

CAREFREE — An explosion released a cloud of hydrochloric acid gas at an engine plant yesterday in southern Indiana, injuring at least three persons, authorities said.

No one’s life was in danger after the blast at the Jasper Engines & Transmissions plant, said state police spokesman Sgt. Chad Dick.

One worker went to the hospital and two were treated at the scene after they inhaled fumes, said Cork Witte, a production supervisor. Fifteen persons had to be decontaminated, officials said.

Workers were mixing chemicals when the acid cloud was created, and the plant was evacuated in the early afternoon, Sgt. Dick said.

MISSOURI

Methadone pills sicken school girls

ST. JOSEPH — Nine middle-school girls were sickened after apparently eating methadone pills supplied by a 16-year-old boy, police said.

The girls were hospitalized Wednesday and are being kept for observation at Heartland Regional Medical Center. “It appears that the students are doing OK,” St. Joseph police Capt. Kevin Castle said.

The boy suspected of providing the prescription methadone — a drug commonly used to treat heroin addiction — was charged with distributing a controlled substance.

Capt. Castle said the Benton High School student is thought to have given the pills to a middle school girl on a school bus. Police think the girl then distributed the pills to other girls.

PENNSYLVANIA

Section of I-95 reopens after repair

PHILADELPHIA — A three-mile stretch of Interstate 95 reopened yesterday morning after being shut down for more than two days while crews conducted emergency repairs on a cracked support column.

With the road repaired, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will design and install a new pillar, spokesman Charles Metzger said.

The work caused massive delays for motorists on the major East Coast artery as crews worked to shore up the fractured concrete pillar.

TENNESSEE

Drag racer charged in crowd deaths

SELMER — A professional drag racer whose car plowed into a parade crowd last summer, killing six persons and injuring 22 others, surrendered to authorities yesterday on multiple felony charges.

Troy Critchley, 38, is charged with six counts of vehicular homicide because of recklessness and 22 counts of reckless aggravated assault, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The Australian-born driver, who lives in Texas, attended a court hearing, posted $35,000 bond and surrendered his passport. Trial was set for Nov. 3.

Mr. Critchley was performing a “burnout” routine — spinning the tires to send up clouds of smoke — when his car crashed into spectators at a June 16 charity event in Selmer.

TEXAS

Ex-death row inmate guilty in slaying

DALLAS — A man who was on death row for nearly 20 years until the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his verdict in 2005 because of racial discrimination in jury selection has pleaded guilty to the 1985 slaying for which he was originally sentenced to die.

Thomas Miller-El, 56, accepted a deal with prosecutors Wednesday that spares him from heading to death row for a second time but assures he will never leave prison.

A judge sentenced Miller-El to life in prison after he pleaded guilty to capital murder and aggravated robbery in the killing of Holiday Inn clerk Douglas Walker during a robbery. Mr. Walker and co-worker Donald Ray Hall were bound, gagged and shot. Mr. Hall, who was paralyzed in the shooting, identified Miller-El as the triggerman.

He waived his right to appeal in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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